Insight article

Ghost story

I’ve just finished reading a great book called ‘Ghost’ by Robert Harris. It’s an engrossing thriller about a Ghost Writer employed to write the memoirs of a former British Prime Minister responsible for waging a highly controversial war in the Middle East. (The book is fiction but you would be entirely forgiven for assuming the PM is based on Tony Blair).

Throughout the book the reader is given a fascinating insight into the world of ghost writing. The ‘Ghost’ describes the challenges of his job: How to stitch together his subject’s patchwork of time addled memories to form a coherent and compelling story that will be thoroughly convincing to the reader.  The Ghost tells us that he applies ‘The Seaplane Test’ to his finished manuscript in order to assess just how convincing his gap filling will be.

So what exactly is ‘The Seaplane Test’?

The Ghost describes a book he once read. We never find out the name of the book but it opens with a high profile US politician arriving in Central London via a giant seaplane landing on the Thames. The Ghost tells us that as soon as he read that highly unlikely scenario, he was unable to read the rest of the book. In that moment, the story had lost all credibility, leaving the Ghost unable to take the rest of the book seriously.

The lesson here is that, whilst it’s fun to suspend belief for the sake of entertainment, credibility is key if you want your story to resonate with its audience. Just like the Ghost in Harris’s novel, we believe in ‘The Seaplane Test’ – We help our clients to tell their Story in a compelling way but in a way that never compromises accuracy or truth.

Nailia Tasseel